Podcast #8: Bringing the best to Britain
King.com's Alex Dale and Gree's Kyoko Matsushita on why their companies founded London studios
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Remember the brain drain? The fear that, enticed by gold-plated skidoos and swimming pools of maple syrup, the brightest and best of Britain's developers were all jumping on planes and heading to Canada to toil in the shining mills of Ubisoft, EA and Activision, nourished by tax-breaks and multi-national pay-cheques.
It was not an idle fear. A TIGA report from January, 2012 indicated that an alarming number of the highly skilled and experienced UK developers who lost their jobs during the swathe of studio closures of the last 18 months were relocating abroad.
According to those figures, 40 per cent of these newly redundant men and women were upping sticks and emigrating, with Canada proving the most popular destination by some distance, followed by the US. Now, according to Alex Dale and Kyoko Matsushita, a lot of them are coming back - and they're bringing others with them.
Alex is the CMO of King.com, makers of Bubble Witch and surprise contender for the social gaming crown. King has been busy establishing offices in many of Europe's great cities, but has chosen London for a new studio headed up by Catharina Lavers Mallett.
Matsushita is VP of developer relations for EMEA territories at the mighty Gree, another rapidly gestated giant stalking the social and mobile landscape. Gree have also picked London to be the newest studio jewel in an increasingly glittering crown, drawing in 30 staff and counting quickly upwards.
According to both Matsushita and Dale, it's largely the talent which drew King and Gree here. London is awash with capable professionals eager to move into growth areas like mobile and social gaming. But beyond that, both companies are seeing plenty of interest in their vacancies from elsewhere, too.
Can the ongoing paradigm shift occurring in the industry bring a new wave of investment and employment to the UK's game developers? We certainly hope so, and King and Gree could be the tip of the iceberg, with Activision Leeds already indicating that some more traditional publishers are also seeing the potential which Great Britain has to offer.
Listen in below to hear what this month's guests have to say about why the UK's brain drain could be over.
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The GamesIndustry International podcast is recorded at London's Side Studios.